Websites relating to STIs - part one

Websites related to this week's Clinical Review, selected by Dr Keith Barnard.


I've extolled the virtues of this 'ABC of sexual health' before. These chapters discuss how to take a good history and avoid embarrassment for both doctor and patient.

It covers all the terms that people with no medical knowledge may use, and demonstrates how you can speak in plain and understandable terms without resorting to the condescending schoolboy terminology of this week's website of the week.

There are some useful illustrations and an amusing cartoon, but it is all quite cerebral.

There are only about four pages, and I strongly recommend all GP registrars to download the PDF file and keep it handy.

Why go there: provides excellent advice on taking sexual histories.

Downside: none.

Information from: BMJ.



If you want to get involved in the government's aim of providing more STI services in general practice, you had better have a look at this 20-page booklet that bears the not-so-snappy title of 'Competencies for providing more specialised sexually transmitted infection services within primary care'.

It's full of all the latest buzzwords like 'stakeholder'. Be warned that you'll have 'multidisciplinary' on the brain for weeks afterwards.

Why go there: from the horse's mouth.

Downside: could benefit from being half as long.

Information from: NHS.



Do you know how you should be dealing with the problem of healthcare workers and hepatitis B?

Which members of your staff should be immunised and how do you follow up their vaccination? If you are not confident with such matters, then someone in the practice should make themselves familiar with this 18-page booklet.

It is quite straightforward and reading the main recommendations on page 2 covers the key points.

But this was first published in 1993, and so to be sure you are up-to-date you have to visit to find the 13 pages of addenda.

Why on earth don't they just re-write the original?

Why go there: it provides essential health and safety information.

Downside: it should be one document.

Information from: DoH.


- Dr Barnard is a former GP in Fareham, Hampshire

- Clinical Review, page 33


I didn't recommend this as website of the week because I think it's worthy - far from it. I don't think the NHS committee who put this sexual health advice website together are going to like me after this, but you have to see this.

I can imagine what they are trying to do, and I know it's not meant for professionals, but do they have to aim so low to hit their target audience?

The tone is set by the 'Gifts for Lovers' section where you have to lift up a blind that is suggestively labelled 'pull my tassel' to reveal presents for him or her.

There is a heart-shaped box labelled 'Sexy Sweets' and the symptoms of the genital herpes you may bestow are flashed up as 'my bush burns', 'blistering beaver' and 'flaming fanny'. And no, I am not joking.

And in the comic-strip style story of some poor chap going to an STI clinic, he ends up saying: 'That wasn't so bad - a quick knob swab and a pee sample'. I actually started laughing at this puerile nonsense, but then I became angry. This approach trivialises STIs and makes them look like a laddish joke. And what will someone who doesn't live on a diet of the trashiest tabloids and has more than half a brain cell think of this? I have no problem with talking the same language as my patients, but this is going too far.

Why go there: in case you don't believe me.

Downside: almost everything.

Information from: DoH sexual health website.


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